Talk that thousands of office workers will be staying up late to watch Euro 2000 championship matches is exaggerated. The fact that the games are shown on Cable TV, not on one of the free terrestrial channels, means they have a limited viewership. But there is no denying soccer is the most popular sport in Hong Kong. Although standards of local matches are low, thanks to satellite technology soccer enthusiasts can find an outlet for their passion by watching live broadcasts of games between the top sides in Europe. To add to their enjoyment, some enthusiasts have been known to bet on the results, either legally - at present - through overseas bookmakers or locally with triad-controlled ones. The seriousness of the problem can be gauged by the arrests made by both the police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption of illegal bookmakers during the World Cup finals two years ago. So acute is the problem that legalising soccer betting has been proposed as a remedy. It is argued that it is better to contain the problem by asking a proper body such as the Jockey Club to be the bookmaker. If nothing else, it would ensure the profits go to the Government and charities rather than the triads. While the argument has merits, it would be wrong for the Government to rush into making a decision. Legalising any form of betting is a highly emotive issue in Hong Kong, even though gambling is sometimes regarded as second nature for most of the population, as evidenced by the popularity of mahjong and horse racing. Two years ago, several of Hong Kong's most promising professional soccer players were found to have accepted bribes from bookmakers to throw matches. Until the scandal broke, these young members of the national team were hailed as idols for other young people. Playing football is a popular pastime for the young. What kind of a message would the Government be sending them by legalising soccer betting? This is a question that the authorities need to consider in contemplating the issue.